Earlier in the year, I had decided to write another book. What should the book be about? Something I love and am passionate about. Travelling is my first love, Ontario travel destinations is something I am passionate about. Ontario is a vast, beautiful province filled with a variety of travel destinations. I have travelled throughout Ontario for both work and pleasure, discovering some strange and interesting places. Creating a book to share the places that I have found for everyone to enjoy. As I checked my list for places I had not seen and marked them on a map, I realized this was going to be a wonderful Ontario Road trip.
Grab a coffee and drive down memory lane with me on this 5,600 km, 30-day road trip on my search for Ontario’s Strange and Interesting. If you would like more details on these different places, check out my blog posts. Ontario: Strange and Interesting.
The Big Apple
Starting in Niagara, I made my way east. My first stop would be The Big Apple. This large apple sits beside Hwy 401 in Colborne, Ontario. This 12.1 m (40 ft) apple serves up, you guessed it, apple products. When I was a little girl and travelling with my Mom and Dad, we would always stop and get an apple pie for the road. I had not stopped there for a long time. It was now much more than just apple pies. A full restaurant, gift shop, brewery and Maple shop, and even a petting zoo. You can still climb to the top of the apple for an amazing view of the landscape. You, not me. I do not do up. Lol
The Stone Arch Dam
This Stone Arch Dam, located in Elgin, Ontario, is almost 200 years old and still holding water. One of the first of its kind in North America and the third largest in the world at its creation. Built in 1831, it is an imposing structure made of sandstone. Standing 18.6 m (61 ft) tall and 106.6 m (350 ft) wide, it diverts the water from the Rideau River through a gorge into Whitefish Lake. Sliceways were added to generate power in 1947. An incredible piece of architecture.
Jones Falls Lock
I found this beauty on my way to find the Stone Arch Dam. Jones Top Lock has been operating since 1831 in the same fashion as it began. It takes human power to open the gates and raise and lower the water by 4.62 m (15 ft). The Lock keepers need to turn a wheel with a series of pulleys attached that open and close the gates. It was interesting to watch. Three locks lower or raise boats a total of 1.6 km (1 mile). There are shops along the dams and a visitor center that you can peruse through while seeing why they call them the prettiest Rideau River locks.
Rockwood Insane Asylum
Built in 1859 this imposing building would become the catalyst for treating the mentally ill. Starting as a country villa, it was purchased by the government in 1856. The Rockwood Insane Asylum was built of limestone by the prisoners of Kingston Penitentiary. Closed in 2000, you cannot go into the buildings but you can walk around them. Some of the outbuildings have been repurposed, and some are abandoned. Around the back is a dock. A boat is tied to the dock. I am not sure if this was an abandoned boat, but it made a very eerie scene.
I love finding great little places to eat. The Vic Cafe is located in Picton, Ontario. I loved the colourful outside and the friendly colourful atmosphere when I walked in. It reminded me of an old fashion diner with a modern twist. The first thing I noticed on the counter was an old fashion milkshake machine. I had to try and was not disappointed. Great food and wonderful service. It is definitely a place I would stop in again.
Graveyards and Gallows
A Graveyard. A story of murder and mystery with a few ghosts thrown in. That is my kind of tour. Graveyards and Gallows Tour starts at St. Mary of Magdalene Church at Macauley Heritage Park in Picton. The tour starts with a walk through the graveyard. Stories of tragedy and sadness in the 1800s. Also one of a little laughter after one of the headstones made it to Ripleys Believe It or Not. A tour through Picton to the courthouse where a set of gallows stand representing a story of murder with a little mystery. Catch the whole story in my blog Ontario: The Strange and Interesting.
Base31 in Picton was a WWII airbase. I was excited to tour the base and take a walk back in time. What I found was a place of both history and modern culture. Unfortunately, my guided tour was cancelled, which was sort of ok since it was really hot outside. Base31 is huge. You can take self-guided tours. I drove around with the air conditioning on because I am kind of wimpy that way. That small tour gave me was an undeniable feeling that I needed to know more. I went back in September and had a private tour. I was amazed and delighted by the concept they were using to revitalize and restore the amazing history this place has. Check out the story on my travel feature blog Base31: Celebrating the Past by Creating a Future.
I would like to stop and Thank Andy and Becky for letting me use their private event park for a base while I toured the area. It was so much fun spending time with them and their family. Andy bringing me a coffee every morning is a great start to the day! Becky and Brittany for making lunch every day and Cindy who I know read my blog every Sunday. Thanks for your hospitality!
The Sharon Temple
My first visit to this interesting travel destination had a wonderful surprise. The day I went the Temple grounds were being used as a giant car show. Wonderful. I love looking at good-looking rides. Unfortunately, the Temple itself was not open. I knew I had to go back. As I read the information in the small museum, I knew I had to learn more about the builders, “The Children of Peace.” I circled back at the end of my tour and was delighted to learn the history of this 1800s structure. Check out my Feature Travel Blog: Sharon Temple.
Haliburton Wolf Center
Haliburton Forest is 100,000 acres of privately owned forest in the middle of Ontario. I went to visit the Wolf Center. What an interesting place. The story of how these wolves came here and how a forest came to be privately owned is fascinating. They also have a campground and adventure attractions. I did not explore as much as I wanted and can not wait to go back.
Haliburton Sculpture Forest
Haliburton Sculpture Forest is a very unique place. A trail leads you on a walk of sculptures made by both Canadian and international artists. As you walk through you have to keep an eye out as some will blend right into the foliage. What a wonderful find!
The Shaw Woods
Shaw Woods near Eganville is what they call an “old growth” forest. Trees that are 100’s of years old. As you walk through you cannot help but feel the calm that an old forest brings.
This was very cool. I had never heard of it before. A wartime bunker was built for Canada’s Military to coordinate rescue and defence strategies in the event of a nuclear war. In 1959 John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister. Talk of Nuclear war was in the air. Prime Minister Diefenbaker commissioned the bunker to be built. I was so looking forward to this tour. My friends Ray and D’Arcy went with me on this tour. It made it twice as much fun. I met Mr. Diefenbaker as a little girl and remember him as a very nice man. Check out my Feature Travel Blog The Diefenbunker for all the great details of the very unique and interesting walk back into the 60s.
Brent Crater is a meteorite impact zone. 450 million years ago, a meteorite hurtled through space and slammed into the earth in this spot. It created a Crater 3.2 km (2 miles) wide and 426 meters (1400 feet) deep. They have a trail that will take you to the bottom of the Crater and a beautiful lookout where you can see the rim of the circle. There is also a wonderful campground at the end of the road beside a quiet little lake. It is a no cell phone or internet zone, so when you go, get all your texting in before you head down that road.
Dionne Quintuplets Museum
I was looking forward to going to this museum in North Bay. Growing up, I had heard stories of the Dionne Quintuplets from my parents. In 1934 five little girls were born. It was a miracle they survived. What happened next would make most parents shiver. The government came and took the little girls, putting them on display. The story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Check out the entire story in my blog Ontario: The Strange and Interesting.
The Big Nickel
Driving into Sudbury you cannot help but notice the 9.1 meters (30 feet) tall replica of a 1951 Nickel. Nickel mining in Sudbury was started in 1901 by a man by the name of Alva Edison. Sudbury became one of the top producers of nickel in the world. In 1964 the city erected this monument to the industry.
Elliot Lake and the Tailing Walls
Elliot Lake is a beautiful little town in Northern Ontario. At one time, it was one of the largest producers of Uranium. As you drive the backroads, you will come across these huge walls of stone. Black and shiny, these rock walls are over 10 feet high and go for as far as you can see. When I first saw them, I had to wonder what that was. I was told it was Talings. The material that is left after the uranium is taken from the rocks. There are signs everywhere telling you they may contain some radioactive material and not to climb them. The mines here closed in the 1990s. Elliot Lake is now a quiet retirement community. A beautiful community where tranquillity and nature surround you.
Trans Canada Highway Halfway Point
The Trans-Canada Highway crosses Canada from East to West. Starting in John’s Newfoundland, crossing all Ten provinces to Victoria, British Columbia. Dr. Perry Doolittle was the first to cross Canada in 1925 in his Model T Ford. There was no highway then. For over 800 km (500 miles) of the 39-day journey, he had to change the wheels on his car to railway wheels to ride the rails where no road yet existed. Dr. Doolittle was a big advocate of creating a roadway and is known as “the father of the Trans-Canada Highway.” Sadly, he would not see his vision come to light. It would not be until 1966 that the last part of the highway would be completed. When you get to Chippewa Falls, you will be 1/2 way across this beautiful country.
A Little trouble comes my way
Highway 17 between Sault St Marie and Thunder Bay is one of the most beautiful drives. As I was driving, enjoying the views of Lake Superior, there was a funny noise coming from my tires and a slight vibration. A friend at Dunlop Lake Lodge, where I stayed in Elliot Lake, pointed out a funny wear pattern on the front tires. I thought I better get it checked out as the next leg of my journey would take me to some no cell phone services areas. Better to be safe than sorry.
A friend’s brother worked at Fountain Tire in Thunder Bay. I called and they told me to bring it right in. Both the alignment and the camber were off and I would need new front tires. Darn!!! They took care of everything that day and I was back on the road safe and sound. Thanks, guys!
Panorama Amethyst Mine
Working in Thunder Bay a few times, I passed the sign for this Amethyst Mine many times. I had to stop and “mine” some Amethyst. Amethyst is my favourite crystal. Not just because it is purple, well maybe it is, but it also has some healing qualities that I enjoy having around me. I had no idea driving up this dirt road what an enjoyable afternoon it would be. Not only did I learn about Amethyst and how it is mined from our guide and mine owner Tim but got to experience the field of amethyst. I cannot wait to go again and bring my grandkids. Check it out on my Feature Travel Blog: Panorama Amethyst Mine.
The Beardmore Snowman
Driving up Highway 11 I had to go see the Beardmore Snowman. It was easy to find being 10 meters (35 feet) tall. Depending on the season he may be holding a fishing rod or a curling club. This giant roadside attraction was built in 1960 to promote the local ski hill. Summer or winter it is a sight to see.
Macleod Provincial Park
I decided I wanted to get a campsite, have a warm shower, and have a quiet place to take notes of my journey. What I found was a campsite almost surrounded by trees, hydro at the site with my own private beach entrance to a beautiful lake. Perfect! This beautiful Provincial Park is definitely on my stop-again list.
Poof There is a Dinosaur
Driving down Highway 11 near Mattice Ontario there is a statue of a dinosaur. It just kind of appears in the middle of really, nowhere. I am not sure why it is there but it sure was fun to come across it.
The early pioneers of the small town of Moonbeam would see flashes of light in the sky. They would call them “falling moonbeams.” They described them as flat, round disks that flew with great speed and made a terrible noise. In the late 1990s this UFO was built to celebrate this beautiful little northern town.
Cochrane is a wonderful, welcoming Northern town. You cannot go much further north by car. You can however catch the train to Moosonee. The train station also has overnight parking so it is perfect for us wanderers to have a safe place to spend the night. It is also home to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. A great place to visit to see these huge majestic animals up close. Be sure to make it a travel destination when you are in the area. You will be glad you did.
A line in the sand, or should I say earth. At this point, in a little town on Highway 11, a sign marks the line where on one side of the line all rivers flow north to the Arctic Ocean. On the other side of the sign, all rivers flow south. I find mother nature amazing. Diverting and feeding the areas for all its needs.
Elk Lake Wilderness Resort
My daughter had invited me to spend the week with her family at a wilderness resort. What a beautiful place to rest and relax. Sitting on a small river they had everything you need to have a complete wilderness resort experience. The hosts Mallory and Jay are wonderful with a dream come true story. Check it out on my blog, Elk Lake Wilderness Resort: The Perfect Northern Getaway.
Cobalt, Ontario is home to the Heritage Silver Trail. A 22 km trail that takes you to the history of Silver mining in this quaint northern town. You can visit the Glory Hole as well as feel the cold air rush at you from an adit. Walk on the ruins of a old mining mill or see the mining equipment used to mine the Silver “back in the day.” To find the story of how it all came to be check out my blog Ontario: The Strange and Interesting. The Search Continues.
Located in Penetanguishene Ontario is a harbour with a lot of history. The harbour held two tall ship replicas from the 1800s. You can tour the outside and go below as the tour guide tells you the story of these mighty vessels. When you are done touring the ships you can tour an 1800s Naval base with people in costume performing the duties as they had so long ago. It was an interesting and informative travel destination. Check it out on my blog Ontario: The Strange and Interesting. The Search Continues.
The Cheltenham Badlands
Located in Caledon Ontario this rock formation dates back thousands of years. Rolling hills of Queenston Shale, created by streams of water over 450 million years ago. It is interesting to see. Unfortunately, it is very delicate so you cannot walk it but it is worth the trip to behold this very strange site.
Wow, what a tour! Thanks for coming along with me as I walk down memory lane of 2022. There are still a few months left, so be sure to check in next week as I finish my drive down memory lane.
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